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Lights go out across Lowestoft to save cash

PUBLISHED: 13:09 15 July 2011

Guy McGregor, Portfolio holder for roads and transport at Suffolk County Council;

Guy McGregor, Portfolio holder for roads and transport at Suffolk County Council;

Archant

DARKNESS is set to descend on parts of Lowestoft later this month when many of the town's streetlights are switched off or dimmed after midnight.

The switch-off is part of a new Suffolk County Council scheme that aims to save money, cut carbon emissions and boost the authority‘s “Greenest County” drive.

The plans – which will see Lowestoft become the first large town in Suffolk to adopt a new “intelligent lighting system” – will see some county council-owned streetlights turned off between midnight and 5.30am from Monday, July 25, while others will be dimmed during these times.

Work to install the system is due to take three months, ending on October 24.

Guy McGregor, county councillor responsible for roads and transport, dismissed concerns that the changes might lead to a rise in crime. “This has taken years of work and now, later this month, the new intelligent lighting system will be rolled out across Lowestoft in seven stages,” he told The Journal.

“We have consulted fully with the police and the evidence we have from other authorities where these measures have been introduced has indicated levels of crime have not increased, but a reduction has occurred.”

There are 8,195 county council-owned street lights in Lowestoft, and 5,384 of these will be switched off from midnight to 5.30am. The decision about which lights to keep on and which to switch off has been made in consultation with Suffolk police and local county councillors. Lowestoft will be split into seven zones, with the first streets adopting the new system on July 25.

The council plans to roll out the system out across the county over the next 18 months in a bid to save £550,000 a year and move closer to its goal of reducing the county’s CO2 emissions by 60pc by 2025.

“The lights will have fully adjustable settings, which means that settings can be altered for different days of the week, to take account of British summer time, or set street lights to stay on for longer – for events or at Christmas and New Year,” a council spokesman said.

The council’s cabinet agreed last October that all county council-owned streetlights up to 6m in height should be included within the switch-off plans. However, where the following criteria apply lights may be kept on for longer:

At major junctions/roundabouts; in town centres with CCTV, high security businesses, areas of high night-time pedestrian usage, or outside community facilities and leisure centres; areas where lighting is needed to reduce road accidents; areas where there could be an increase in crime through reduced lighting; remote alleys linking residential streets; near pedestrian crossings, footbridges, and subways; in public car parks; at bus stops; at level crossings, speed humps and traffic lights.

Information at www.suffolk.gov.uk/streetlighting

What do you think of the plans? Write to Postbox, The Journal, 147, London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email max.bennett@archant.co.uk – including your name and address.

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